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Sports Person of the Week
Carone Delivers Big-Time on the Hill
Matt Carone posted a 1.31 ERA on his way to garnering All-SCC Second Team accolades for the Class L state champion Hand baseball team this spring. (Photo courtesy of Matt Carone)
The Hand baseball team put together its most successful season in program history in 2021. One of the biggest contributors for the Tigers was senior pitcher Matt Carone, who turned in a dominating effort on the mound this spring.
Matt led Hand with a 1.31 earned-run average over 51 innings of work—both of which were team-best totals. Matt and the Tigers won the team’s first state championship by defeating Berlin in the Class L final, finishing the season with an overall record of 21-2.
“Before the year started, I didn’t know much about this team and what we were going to do. But it ended up being the best season of baseball I’ve ever played,” says Matt. “Between the success we had and the group of guys I played with, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my senior year.”
Matt’s stellar year on the hill led to him earning All-SCC Second Team honors as a senior. The recent graduate also received the SCC Scholar Athlete Award for his performance both on the field and in the classroom. Matt will always cherish that moment when Hand claimed the Class L state title.
“My favorite moment was winning the state championship with our team this year. We all worked so hard and put in so much effort, and to finally see it become a major success, that was a moment I’ll never forget,” Matt says. “The group of guys we had this year were unlike any team I had ever played with, and we all got along so well. There’s no other team I would have wanted to share this moment with.”
One of Matt’s fears entering the 2021 campaign was the possibility of the season being shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, Matt and the Tigers were able to complete a full season without any major setbacks.
“It was always in the back of my mind that there was a chance that we could get shut down due to COVID. But I tried to not let it affect me. I went out there every game playing like it was my last, because you never know when your season could be cut short,” says Matt. “We had a few players that got contact-traced throughout the season, so I knew there was always a chance that it could happen to me. Luckily enough, our team never had to shut down.”
Head Coach Travis LaPointe knew that he could rely on Matt in any situation whenever the right-hander toed the rubber. Matt started several games for the Tigers, but he also made some relief appearances throughout the season.
“Matt was a leader in our dugout and on our pitching staff. He was the MVP of the staff, because he had the lowest ERA. He was a starter and a reliever, and we called on him to get us out of the toughest situations. He always delivered,” LaPointe says. “Matt pitched through some significant back pain this season and was able to overcome it to lead us to a championship. He is an outstanding student and a perfect role model for kids in our community.”
Matt enjoyed chatting about strategy with LaPointe during Hand’s games. Matt gained a lot of confidence from knowing that his coach always trusted him to get the job done.
“Coach LaPointe was a big influence on me this season. He had confidence in me to do my job on the team. Even though I’m not your typical pitcher, he still believed in me to come into any situation and that contributed to my overall success,” says Matt. “The whole coaching staff went above and beyond this year to make our season so special, and all their hard work to help us get to that next level paid off in the long run.”
This summer, Matt is competing for the Madison Senior American Legion 19-U baseball team. Matt helped Madison notch 16 victories during the regular season and is looking forward to leading the club on a run in the postseason.
After winning a state title in his final high school season, Matt believes that the mental side of his game has improved astronomically. Matt takes pride in winning the mental chess match whenever his opponent steps into the batter’s box.
“My favorite aspect of baseball is the mental part. There’s so much more that goes into it than just being overpowering and, as a pitcher on the team, I had to outsmart my opponents to be effective,” Matt says. “I always enjoyed the task of facing talented hitters, because I knew it was going to be a battle that was going to test my abilities and how mentally strong I was. I want to be on the mound in pressure situations, because I am confident that I will be successful in a big spot.”